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Here on my Reggae Blog I want to introduce you to my favorite artists and albums, write about recent concerts and hopefully will be inspired to discover new music through your comments and in turn inspire you to check out some of the most amazing tunes ever to be recorded.
Sunday, February 29, 2004
You're No Good (12" version) - Ken Boothe & Prince Jammy
Kingston 12 Tuggy (12" Channel One mix) - The Morwells
Jammin' For Survival (12" version) - The Morwells & Prince Jammy
A Yah We Deh - Barrington Levy
Bad Boys - Tristan Palma
Good Dub - Scientist & The Soul Syndicate
Hunter Man - Barrington Levy
Sensimillia - Barrington Levy
Rocking Of The 5,000 (12" version) - Badoo & Toyan
Spliff Tail - Tristan Palma
Spliff Dub - Black Solidarity All Stars
Mr.C.I.D (12" version) - Barrington Levy & Jah Thomas
Shaolin Temple (12" version) - Barrington Levy & Jah Thomas
Late Night Blues (12" version) - Don Carlos
They Can't Stop Us Now - The Viceroys
Love Is The Key - The Viceroys
Seperation - (12" version) - Barry Brown & Scientist
Cool Pon Your Corner (12" version inc uncredited DJ) - Barry Brown
How Can A Man Be Happy (12" version) - Tristan Palma
My Mission Is Impossible (1981 cut) - The Viceroys
Pop No Style (12" version) - Linval Thompson & Scientist
Living As A Brother - Barry Brown
Caring For My Sister - Scientist & The Roots Radics
You're no good is a fat track! I am more used to Ken Boothe's Rocksteady recordings, but I really like this one. Almost sounds more like roots to me, it has the Dancehall beat, though. Not too surprising considering the period these recordings were made in, so this early blend from Roots to Dancehall can be heard on most of the songs on this album. A yah we deh by Barrington Levy is also a very solid tune. Actually all of his tunes on this collection are great. The second half of Rocking of the 5000 is a great DJ version of the first half and the transition is especially sweet. The DJ version is way better than the beginning, too. They can't stop is now by the Viceroys is a great song, produced by Linval Thopmson. The very same is singing on Pop no style, which is dubbed by Scientist. Great 12" version of this one.
Friday, February 27, 2004
unfortunately under many people's radar, this singer has recorded some of the nicest roots music in the late 1970s. With his sweet falsetto voice he reminds me a little bit of Junior Murvin, even though that comparison does not quite hold.
Prince Lincoln started his career as Tartans in the 60s with local singers Devon Russel and Cedric Myton, following the disbandment of this pair's groups the Bell Stars. In the early 70s, the group cut several immaculate tracks, "Awake The Town", "It's Alright", "Coming On Strong" for Ken Lack's Caltone label featuring Lincoln as lead vocalist. However, following a quarrel between Devon and Lincoln, the group split and went their separate ways.
He then disappeared from view for several years, but he went to the Studio One where he made three singles "Live Up To Your Name", "True Experience"and "Daughters Of Zion". Although at the time of issue and with Studio One in the doldrums as far as the general reggae buying publish were concerned, these were mostly overlooked. Soon Prince Lincoln left the Studio One to establish his one label, God Sent, and released three more singles "Love The Way It ShouldBe", "kingston 11", "Old Time Friend" as the Royal Rasses which provided by an assortment of back singers including Cedric Mayton (Congos fame), Keith Peterkin and Jennifer Lara. Those were big hit both in Jamaica and UK, and attracted the attention of Ballistic records and signed them and heavily promoted their debut album "Humanity".
The group were poised on the brink of international stardom and carefully crafted, thoughtful songs and soaring vocals were exactly right for the time. Sadly, it was went all wrong. Altogether the Royal Rasses were making crossover music, their follow-up album, "Experience" failed to scale the heights that "Humanity" had reached and was not particularly popular with either the reggae audience or the pop audience at which they were aimed. I personally find both albums very appealing. They have both recently been re-issued on CD with respective Dub albums as bonus discs. What I find especially noteworthy is the band used in the recordings for Experience/Harder Na Rass. It not only features my favorite drummer, Leroy 'Horsemouth' Wallace (I will have to write about the movie Rockers one of these days!) and a classic horn section including Tommy McCook and Bobi Ellis but also Ernest Ranglin on lead guitar! A prolific Jazz guitarist, aledgetly Bob Marley's teacher in this instrument, who also recorded a fantastic Jazz set with pianist Monty Alexander at the German MPS studios in the late 1960s. Amazing stuff.
Track List - Humanity
1. San Salvador [Disco Style]
2. They Know Not Jah
3. Old Time Friends [Disco Style]
4. Unconventional People
5. Humanity (Love The Way It Should Be)
6. Mr Kissinger
7. Kingston 11
1. Moonlight City
5. Riverton City
6. Cockburn Pen
7. Bell Rock
8. Whitewing Walk
9. Tower Hill
10. Central Village
Track List - True Experience
CD 1: (Experience)
1. Nobody Here But Me
2. Blessed Are the Meek
3. Slave Driver
4. Jah Love
5. Babylon Is Falling
6. True Experience
7. For Once in My Life
8. Walk in Jah Light
9. Jungle Fever
10. Thanksgiving (While Your Living)
CD 2: (Harder-Na-Rass)
1. Interstellar Over Dub
2. Second Sight
3. Nebular Dub
4. Time Wharp
5. Universally Dubbed
6. Terrestial Dub
7. Gravitational Echoes
8. Dub Vortex
9. Regenerated Dub
10. Cosmic Silence
More detailed reviews of these albums will follow. I am excited about them!
lots of work, exams and such. But now a part is over, I am in the mood and the music is sweet! I have already mentioned how excited I am about the Skatalites coming to the Summerjam. The next band I want to mention is the Abyssinians. So far I have only been able to seem them once and I can't wait to see them again. Their debut album Satta Masagana (1976) is one of the top 10 Reggae albums of all time, trust me I am not the only one to think so! The title track is one of the most memorable and most often covered tunes of all times . But the album is just excellent throughout, it's hard to highlight any specific songs.
1. Declaration of Rights
2. The Good Lord
3. Forward Unto Zion
4. Know Jah Today
6. Y Mas Gan
7. Black Man's Strain
8. Satta Massagana
9. I And I
10. African Race
11. Leggo Beast
12. Peculiar Number
13. Reason Time
14. There Is No End
To quote from Reggae Reviews "Easily one of the best reggae albums of all time, this set is so good, it's scary. Some beginning listeners may not be able to get into it fully because it's pretty heavy roots, but once you do, it's a wonderful thing. The song "Satta Massagana" is the centerpiece of this collection of the group's best work, the tune being a modern-day hymn whose appeal transcends the religion. As the liner notes state, if "the song is a hymn, then the album is a hymnal full of gorgeous, pious material." Don't let the thought of dry church music creep into your mind, though. These tracks are dynamic and emotion-packed with driving, funky bass lines and superior harmonies." I think that describes it pretty well. There is really not one song that stands out. One hit after another. Some are more recognizable, i.e. sampled more often, but all are equally great! I can't even tell you how excited I am to see them live again this summer. Big Up!
Monday, February 23, 2004
Sunday, February 22, 2004
I was a big Ska fan before i got more into Reggae (and much more) and Court Jesters Crew was a local band that we saw opening for a Swiss band we had heard of before (ca. 1995). Well, the Swiss band sucked but CJC became a band we followed over the years until they split up last summer. I have seen them about 10 times live and collected their music since buying their demo tape at that first show. Since then, they have released three albums: Umbe (1997), Too high for low (2000) and Babylon Raus (2002). Well, all three albums are great, the band moved from a more fun ska style more towards Rocksteady and Reggae, added an additional vocalist and got more and more mature. Especially the last album has a lot of very fain vocal harmonies; at the same time there are always songs with more Ska influences and some dancehall/ragga muffin elemtns. In the end they played such a tight sound that I feel they really can compare to some of the original recordings done on Jamaica. They also backed Laurel Aitkens last recording that was releeased on Grover and toured with him throughout Europe. The band members are:
Sensi Simon - Trumpet
Rockshah - Vocals, Percussion
P. Samuel - Organ, Piano
Tango La Zar (fka T.W.) - Schlagzeug
Kaeptn - Guitar, Vocals
Spruddy One - Vovals
Jo von H - Sax
Bob Ycar (fka Shank) - Bass
Flo "The King" Wagner - Trombone
Some of my favorite songs are:
Die!, Mobile home - on Umbe
Shake a Leg, Elevator Offbeat, Good 'n' morgan horn, Danger - on Too high for low
Long time now, We let the good times roll, Why you say, Divided we fall- on Babylon raus
It's also worth checking out there new projects Soulfood International (a sort of Reggae-HipHop fusion with full backing band) and Studion Nine Band (Instrumental ska a la First-Wave Skatalites sound).
Saturday, February 21, 2004
I am happy. So far I have only seen him live once, and that was at the Summerjam on a big open air stage with 12,000 people. This time it will be a club. Awesome!
Well I will write about it, but for know let's talk Lee Perry. I just put all of the tracks I have on my hard drive on shuffle. It's almost 38 hours, let's see which tracks I will draw for you, but I will preselect and not write about all of them.
Words of my Mouth - by the Gatherers. I have it on the double CD Wonderman Years. Often used rhythm in (I believe) the original version with the sweet harmonies by the Gatherers and what I think is Augustus Pablo on harmonica. A well known version is Kuchy Skank on Rhythm Shower
Economic Crisis - by Jack Lord a track on Excalibur Man. It's also on Magaton Dub 2. Roots Reggae at its finest. It has a very laid back rhythm, a little Caribbean Guitar during the refrain and just very cool singing voice by Jack Lord. Actually the refrain kind of reminds me of UB40, in a good way. I'll write about that some other times, I generally don't like their music that much, but their first album was great. I don't think there is another song by Jack Lord, I should say there is no other song under this pseudonym as his real name is Jackie Bernard who also recorded with the Kingstonians.
Kiss me Neck - by Perry himself with the Upsetters on Jungle Lion. Crazy rocking rhythm with just a few chants of 'Skaba' in the background. Mesmerizing.
Police and Thieves - Junior Murvin. Alright, this is a BIG one. Covered by the Clash, featured on numerous Soundtracks. I have it on the full album by Murvin under the same title, it is also on the Arkology Box Set, where the whole second CD is almost exclusively this rhythm. Almost. Reggae History, no question. Look at that, it went straight to another Murvin song, Roots Train, well I am listening to Version train now. You see how this goes.
Civilization - by the Classics on Shock of Mighty. I love the lyrics.
We need more civilization and better organization to fight victimization.
We don't share with one another, we fight against each other, in this world.
I've never had it so good - by Bunny Rugs on To love Somebody. He later became the lead singer of Third World. This recording is from 1974.
Bath Room Skank - Perry with the Upsetters, on Wonderman Years among others. Crack Perry lyrics: Grab a towel and scrub your bowel. Scrub your foot, scrub your face. Well he goes on like that.
Cloak and dagger - by the Upsetters on the same-titled album. Great stuff from 1973, still instrumental reggae or already Dub? Perry is exploring the boundaries. No coincidence that one of the versions her recorded a little later is called Dub Organizer (this one is on Blackboard Jungle Dub).
Dragon Slayer - Upsetter tune on Return of Wax. A 1975 instrumental album. Great dub tune: heavy bass, edgy guitar. This is maybe my favorite period in Perry's work right now: recorded at the same time as Musical Bones (with Vin Gordon on trombone) and Kung Fu Meets The Dragon. All of these releases were extremely rare (they were limited to 300 copies originally). Gotta be thankfully that people reissue this stuff!
Well, that was fun. Still, I will do albums again next time. Lee Perry is great, check him out.
Thursday, February 19, 2004
Here is the first album preview, one of the CDs I got from 8 for 8: Augustus Pablo - Authentic Golden Melodies.
This is a very hard to find collection of some classic Pablo tunes. For those of you not familiar with Augustus Pablo, he is one of my favorite musicians of all time and also a great producer - the inventer (well maybe that goes a little to far) of the ROCKERS sound of the mid to late 70s. What he's famous for is introducing the melodica to Reggae music, and he can play some seet ass melodies on this rather obscure little instrument. As a producer, he discovered such talents as Jacob Miller (later of Inner Circle fame), Hugh Mundlell and Tetrack. Jacob Miller of course died way too young and Inner Circle never were the same, well basically all of their stuff after Jacob's death right out SUCKED.
The trac list for this album is:
1. Meditation Dub
2. Tippa Tone Blues
3. East Man Sounds
4. New Lots Express
5. House Is Not A Home
6. Chain Gang Dub
7. Viva Tirado
8. Islington Rock
10. Jungle Cry
A number of these tunes were recorded at the famous Black Ark studio by Lee Perry, all of them are great mid to late 70s instrumental dub tunes with Pablo's sweet harmonica work. Meditation Dub is a version of Lee Perry's "Words" Rhythm. My personal favorite (so far) is New Lots Express; a fantastic bass line, great rhythm set by the organ and drums and, well, I allready feel stupid for mentioning this again but he plays some amzing stuff on the harmonica. What a pleasure. Viva Tirado also features a crazy rhythm. I can't remember where it is taken from, but in this version it has almost a disco feel to it, except that no disco music could ever groove this much. Satta - 3 is, as the more experienced reggae fans might suspect, a version of Satta Massagana by the Abyssinians. This is one of the alltime classics, probably one of the most recongnizable melodies ever recorded. As much as I like this album, the original song by the Abyssinians is still far better.
For some more information on Augustus Pablo please visit this biography.
That's it for today, I need to get some sleep.
Wednesday, February 18, 2004
The Skatalites (!!!!!) will bless us with a performance at the summarizing festival in Cologne, Germany this coming July (see link to the festival to your right...). I will be writing much more (trust me, probably too much more) about the Summerjam, as I attended it every year for half a decade and look at it as being the best weekend in the year! Basically it is a three day openair festival dedicated to Reggae music that regularly attract over 25,000 followers that celebrate the music and lifestyle they love in a great atmosphere.
And the Skatalites, well they are an integral part of the history of Reggae. While it is hard to put an exact date to the birth of Reggae, or it's ancestors Ska and Rocksteady, the year of Jamaica's independence, 1962, is a good estimate (man I have a lot to talk about. I mean, there are several informative and extensive books on this and I try to put it into one post????). This is when the Jamaican recording industry really got going, and the Skatalites where the house band of the most popular and successfully studio of the time, Sir Coxsone Dodd's Studio One. The original Skatalites included some of the best musical talent that Jamaica has ever produced, among them hornsmen Tommy McCook, Roland Alphonso and Don Drummond, Keyboard-Legend Jackie Mittoo and the Rhythm Section of Lloyd Brevett (bass) and Llyod Knibb (drums).
Unfortunately, many of the original members have since passed away, but the Skatalites continue to perform at the highest level and that after more than 40 years in the music business!
Don't ever, I repeat, DON'T EVER miss a Skatalites show!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yesterday was a good day. I got an order of cds, and that always makes me happy. I ordered from a place called 8 for 8, an online store devoted entirely to the one and only Mr. Lee 'Scratch' Perry. You will see me writing about him a lot more in future posts, but for now all I want to say is that he is one of the most influencial people of the Jamaican music scene, as a producer, singer, song writer and innovator. He discovered many artists, and jump-started the careers of numerous others, most notably the one Bob Marley in the late 60s early 70s before he was discovered by Island ounder Chris Blackwell. For an overvier of Perry's tremendous work see Smokeyroom.
Anyhow, 8 for 8 has some very hard to find albums and singles as well as other resources. Over time, hopefully I will have time to write about all of them, but so far I have only browsed through them very quickly. Nevertheless, Perry is a great example of how in Reggae it usually pays to scratch beneath the surface and look for the more obscure recordings.
Monday, February 16, 2004
this is my first blog, so bear with me. I want to introduce you to my favourite artists and albums, write about recent concerts and hopefully will be inspired to discover new music through your comments and in turn inspire you to check out some of the most amazing tunes ever to be recorded. So please email me with any questions, suggestions, etc.